How easy is it to get a bulletproof vest?

Detectives believe Markeith Loyd is wearing a bulletproof vest

By Jennifer Ortega - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - There are no regulations in buying a bulletproof vest, and because of that a handful of gun shop workers News 6 spoke to won't even sell them.

"I check everyone out, yeah, but generally if he's wearing a badge, has a gun and a uniform on, he's probably an officer," Steve Pocius said.

Pocius said he's been doing this for 30 years and limits who he sells to. At his shop, it's policy to only sell bulletproof vests to officials in active duty.

"To my knowledge there's no law that vests are restricted in purchasing. Should a bad guy have a vest? Of course not, but he shouldn't have a gun either," he said.

Detectives believe Markeith Loyd is wearing a bulletproof vest, but how did he get one?

Pocius said it's not difficult, that officials come in all the time replacing equipment.

"Maybe he stole it. I had a guy come in here this week replacing a vest that someone stole his vest and he's a security guard," Pocius said.

[RELATED: Police chief urges Markeith Loyd to 'be a man' and turn himself in]

In the Pulse shooting, shooter Omar Mateen was not wearing body armor. He actually tried to purchase it but was denied.

Pocius told News 6 he can spot a good sale from a bad sale immediately.

"The guy sized him up and said there was something weird here, and I think it wasn't just the vest. I think he was going in there asking for cases of ammo, which is not illegal to do, but he just had bad vibes about him," he said.

News 6 tried to buy a vest online. One store told News 6 it needed the appropriate documentation, that body armor is restricted to public safety professionals, military and security officers. While on others, such as Amazon, News 6 got all the way to checkout without restrictions.

Pocius said he wouldn't sell News 6 employees a vest, even knowing we're not criminals, just so it doesn't get into the wrong hands. He said vests can be tracked back to where they were purchased but doesn't show where they've been.

"Most vests have serial numbers on them," Pocius said. "A gun can be stolen 10 times before it's used in a crime. Guns are regulated, and criminals still have guns right? So how are you going to regulate? A vest doesn't kill you."

News 6 dug into Florida statute: You can buy, own and wear a bulletproof vest, but if you commit a crime while wearing one, you can be convicted of a felony.

"I don't think you'll ever see a regulation on vests. In the industry, you should monitor. It's like being a good bartender -- you know when to cut the drink off or who to sell the drink to," he said.

OPD said it runs across criminals with bulletproof vests, but they're not always confiscated unless they used it to commit a crime.

As for buying them, it's perfectly legal and up to the seller's discretion.

[TIMELINE: How the hunt for Markeith Loyd has unfolded]

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